The Power of Silence?

Mar 28, 2018

We write, don't we, in spite of people.

I have thought, when dedicating my novels, as I do at the outset, that they might just as well be devoted to those names not just with love, but also with the words 'I wrote this in spite of you.'

Is that a rotten thing to say? Or is it the truth that as you grow older the hoary old hands of love clutch at you, hang round your neck, and the babes in arms are six foot and still you carry them? Man, beast or child, love is a lot of carrying. And writers would like to be light.

We write to disappear. Bit by bit, over time, or sometimes headlong.

How I long to throw myself off a cliffside into a silent sea. 

Vertigo. What a way to verti-go. 

'Vertigo is a medical condition where a person feels as if they or the objects around them are moving when they are not. Often it feels like a spinning or swaying movement.This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, or difficulties walking. It is typically worsened when the head is moved. Vertigo is the most common type of dizziness.'

And I thought it was lust for heights, a passion for oblivion. Dizziness is so much giddier and childish. I must of course have a condition that's something to do with Thanatos - the death drive in Freudian psychology. I'm a thanatic. In fact, Freud called it 'todestrieb' or the death instinct.

But there is another way for writers other than leaving the brake off the pram in the hall, and it's the practice of silence.

Fifteen minutes drinking from the well of peace is just the thing for the beleaguered writer.

I'll be telling you more about the practice of writers which included periods of silence in the coming blogs, but in the meantime, sip on a little soothing silence, until you can run and jump in it.

It's the answer to all your human errors. Unplug, and plug back in. A reboot, a recharge or reset. It's a stay against a more permanent solution, it's the little death.

My first memory is of lying on blanket looking at the sun and clouds, worlded but wordl-less. Before 'the word'. Bliss. What's yours?

Then, I spoke to no one, thought without a syllabus. I was just present. 'Time out of mind' - that beautiful old English phrase Tolkien thought right to deploy on the first page of The Hobbit.

When you're writing, you need time out of mind. Some drink wine, I drink silence. 

I prescribe you fifteen minutes of silence and solitude. Go find a window, look at the sky, and treat yourself to the greatest luxury, time for free, a shot of it. Then write, if you can, then or tomorrow early when no one is about. After sitting with yourself, maybe doodling, maybe drinking coffee, but quietly treating yourself to a little cheap numinosity to start the day. Gag a laptop to remove pinging alerts, or simply go with your white page into the snow of silence. You, the white page, and a little inking hand crawling after your thoughts through the bracken and onto the hilltop to see the view.



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